I’m sharing this funny list of my top 10 summer survival tools that helped me get stuff done, have fun, and keep the chaos to a minimum!
This summer had a unique challenge this year: I was working for the first time!
I hired a local teen to watch the kids a few hours each week so I could get some writing in, but for the most part it was me and the kids. Our summer has been a wonderful mix of relaxation and productivity, thanks to these 10 awesome tools!
10. Dollar store – I keep the toxic-junk from China to a minimum, but this summer I used it as a tool. I bought water guns, hula hoops and pool noodles. They lasted a day or two before my kids destroyed them. It was great to keep hidden until we were at our wits end and then, “Surprise! A new toy!” Disposable, all-day entertainment. Thank you, capitalist/communist trade agreements.
9. Spray-bottle – Before essential oils, I could never imagine having this many glass spray bottles in my house. But they come in handy when you’re trying to avoid toxins! Bug spray, sunscreen, boo-boo spray, and even the occasional ‘what-is-that-smell?’ spray was used in our house almost daily this summer. We love what essential oils do for us, and the spray bottle makes using them more accessible.
8. The Weather App – It never failed that when I wanted to entertain friends and their kids, it decided to rain. The rest of the summer was boiling hot (thanks, Texas). There are few things worse than four kids locked inside for days on end. So, I was often checking the app for minute-to-minute rain and heat advisories. I even let the kids play in the rain a few times. ANYTHING to wear them out and get them out of the house!
7. Funnel – This baby came in so handy! I bought it to fill disposable plastic pouches with my healthier, homemade popsicles. But I also ended up using it to bottle my home brewed kombucha, which is a weekly chore around here. My kids suck it down! I especially love that it collapses and takes up very little drawer space, because with four kids we are all about minimalism.
6. Timer – whether it was the one going off on the counter or on my phone, a timer was a must-have. From keeping track of time-outs (don’t act like you never left a kid there) to managing shifts of Minecraft-playing (I have a love/hate relationship with those creators) it came in handy. The timer kept my sunbathing from becoming sun burning. And because, as often as possible, I would leave dinner cooking to go back outside and enjoy the sunshine. The timer helped me keep track of everything from kids to pot roast!
5. Hand-held Paint Sprayer – I was so excited to have time to do some house projects this summer. This often involves me painting something, which always leads to a really sore pointer finger after spray-painting. While I was dragging my four kids through Hobby Lobby, my 11-year-old pointed out this “cool gun” that saved my life. You just pop it on top of your spray can and pull the trigger. Where has this thing been all my life?!
4. Library – the public library is one of the best things about America. Free books. FREE BOOKS people! I gave each of my kids their own reading challenge for the summer. We went to the library every few weeks to stock up on our books. I had imagined working on school work every week to keep their minds sharp, but who are we kidding? I hate homework during the school year. Why do it when we don’t have to? But at least I pushed reading. Those that couldn’t read got read to, and it worked out pretty well. Our library has a great children’s section, so when we had time, we would stop in and let the kids play and do crafts in the air conditioning. Hallelujah!
3. Citrus Juicer – Because gin and tonic isn’t complete without lime. And cuz four kids at home for the summer.
2. Grocery pick-up – how did we live without this? It’s where the internet intersects with sliced bread. Being able to order online, throw my kids in the car and sit there while someone loaded it all up – blessing straight from Heaven! There’s no way I’d take my four into a grocery store. Shopping for a family of six for the week takes me at least an hour, sometimes more. I categorize this in the self-care column, because it saves my sanity!
1. Bullhorn – you read that right. I’ve always wanted one and this summer, the noise hit a level I couldn’t stand for one more minute. Four kids are LOUD. When they’re in the pool together, they could never hear me yelling at them to stop ‘hitting your siblings – don’t drink the pool water – stop drowning yourself.’ Turns out it works great in the house, too. They’ve gotten louder every year and this year, I took back control with battery-operated awesomeness. And it has a siren for getting their attention really quickly. Favorite tool EVER!
My top 10 list may look different next summer, when I expect to be single-mom-ing it the entire time (thanks, Army). But I’ll be using some of these tools again! Like that bullhorn. I’ll probably add wine-bottle opener….